The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum are premium cards that can enhance just about every aspect of your travel experience. While they have steep annual fees, people who travel on the regular may find it easy to recoup that cost every year in rewards and perks.
But when we put the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum head to head, which one is better? The answer is: it depends.
Why are these cards so popular?
While both cards cost hundreds of dollars each year to carry, they’re incredibly popular among card enthusiasts. There are two primary reasons for their appeal: rewards flexibility and luxury perks.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is one of the most versatile rewards programs available, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve gives cardholders the chance to make the most out of it.
As a cardholder, you can redeem your Chase points for cash back and gift cards at a rate of 1 cent per point. But if you use your rewards to book travel through Chase, you’ll receive 50% more value, making each point worth 1.5 cents.
If you’re a savvier card user, there’s an opportunity to squeeze even more value out of Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to one of Chase’s airline and hotel partners, which include both domestic and international brands.
The Amex Platinum won’t give you any more than 1 cent per point when you redeem your points in-house. But if you transfer your rewards to an Amex airline or hotel partners, you could potentially get a lot more value out of them.
You can earn free flights and hotel stays with just about any travel card, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum take things to the next level. Both cards offer complimentary airport lounge access, travel-related statement credits, rental car discounts and upgrades, various trip protections, and more.
These benefits can not only save you money while you’re traveling, but they can also enhance your trip experience. Many airport lounges, for example, provide complimentary food and drinks, as well as a quiet refuge from the hubbub of the rest of the airport.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum: Core benefits and fees
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Amex Platinum|
|Special Offer||Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months||Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after sending $5,000 in the first 3 months|
|Earning Rate||3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit, 3X points at restaurants and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else||5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare and hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases|
|Authorized User Fee||$75||$175|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||None||None|
Between the two cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a better rewards program, with more opportunities to earn bonus rewards and more valuable redemption options when you redeem within the rewards program. Remember, though, that both cards allow you to transfer points to travel partners, giving you the chance to maximize their value.
The other major difference is in the cards’ available credits. The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual travel credit is a lot more flexible than the Amex Platinum’s airline fee credit. But the Amex Platinum offers a whopping $500 worth of credits every year, effectively reducing the net cost of the card to $50 annually if you’re able to max all the credits out.
If you have a partner or family member who wants to take advantage of some of these card benefits, note that the Chase Sapphire Reserve charges a lower authorized user fee, too.
Travel perks and other benefits
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Amex Platinum|
|Lounge Access||Access to Priority Pass network lounges||Access to Centurion, American Express, Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club, Airspace, and Escape network lounges|
|Elite Hotel Programs||Special benefits at The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection and Relais & Chateaux||Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status; free benefits at The Hotel Collection and Fine Hotel & Resorts|
|Car Rental Benefits||Premium status with Avis, National, and Silvercar||Premium status with Avis, Hertz, and National|
|Travel Accident Insurance||Yes||Yes|
|Trip Delay Insurance||Yes||Yes|
|Trip Cancellation Insurance||Yes||No|
|Lost or Delayed Baggage Insurance||Yes||Yes|
|Rental Car Insurance||Yes, primary||Yes, secondary|
|Emergency Evacuation and Transportation||Yes||Yes|
|Emergency Medical and Dental Benefit||Yes||Yes|
Core travel benefits
If you’re considering the Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Amex Platinum may provide a lot more value with its core travel benefits. Not only do you get access to several more airport lounge networks, but you’ll also get complimentary elite status with two major hotel brands — something the Chase Sapphire Reserve doesn’t currently offer at all.
If you want the card with the most trip protections, however, the Chase Sapphire Reserve may be the better choice. Most notably, the card offers primary rental car insurance. This means you don’t need to file a claim with your personal insurance policy at all.
Rental car coverage
American Express offers primary rental car insurance for a fee (which is typically much cheaper than what you’d pay the rental car company), but the coverage that comes with the Amex Platinum is secondary. This means you’d need to first file a claim with your personal car insurance policy, and the card’s coverage will only kick in if there’s anything left over that your insurer didn’t cover.
Which card is right for you?
Neither card is objectively better than the other, so it’s important to know what you want out of a card to know which is better for you.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
If rewards value and flexibility is your top priority, the Chase Sapphire Reserve wins hands-down, especially if you spend a lot on general travel and dining.
If you’re not as concerned about getting free travel — maybe you travel a lot for work and aren’t paying for it, or you can easily afford trip expenses — and instead want the card that provides more value in the form of perks, the Amex Platinum is the clear winner between the two.
Take some time to consider your travel habits, preferences, and spending habits to determine which card is best suited for your wants and needs.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum discussion is important for frequent travelers looking to get more value whenever they’re on the road or in the air. Depending on how often you travel, you could get a lot more value out of these cards than what you pay in annual fees every year.
Before you apply for one, though, be sure to compare them with other travel cards that may also provide you with the rewards and perks that you need.
While many other travel cards don’t offer as much value, they may charge more affordable annual fees. There are also other premium travel cards, including the Citi Prestige Card, that may be a better fit.
Take the time to research and compare all of your options to make sure you get the best travel card for you.